Graphene, a nano-scale wonder material, is one of the hottest
areas of materials science research. Discovered in 2004 by two
Russian emigre scientists, Andrei Geim and Kostya Novoselov at
the University of Manchester, graphene's revolutionary physical
properties won the two scientists the 2010 Nobel Prize in
What's so special about graphene?
At first graphene doesn't seem all that special. After all, the
scientists who discovered it made it by applying sticky tape to
graphite, which is found in pencil lead. Yet Steve Connor, the
science editor of the UK's
newspaper, has dubbed graphene "the scientific find of the
Graphene is a two dimensional sheet of carbon just one atom
thick. It's the strongest substance ever discovered -- 100 times
stronger than steel by weight. However, graphene also has amazing
electrical and optical properties that mean it could
revolutionize the computer, telecommunications, and electronics
industries. This article will explain how researchers are looking
to graphene to potentially revolutionize energy storage
technology and bring about a cleaner, greener tomorrow.
Graphene: making batteries obsolete?
At UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute,
Tesla Model S source Teslamotors.com
Dr. Richard Kaner and his graduate student Maher El-Kady are
working on graphene-based supercapacitors that promise to
combine the energy density of traditional batteries with the
ability to charge up to a thousand times faster. As an added
bonus these supercapacitors could be made cheaply and without any
environmentally harmful materials (they are biodegradable and can
even be composted).
iPhone 5S source: Apple.com
Just how fast are we talking? Well, they claim that this
technology could charge an iPhone in five seconds, a MacBook in
30 seconds, and an electric car in the same time it takes to fill
up a gas tank. Better yet, the micro-supercapacitors are highly
flexible and bendable. This means they would make ideal power
sources for future foldable and wearable electronics.
Of course, headlines are full of promising new energy storage
technology that often can't make it out of the lab and into
commercial applications. That's what makes this graphene
supercapacitor breakthrough so exciting. Not only have the
researchers discovered a potentially revolutionary way to store
energy, but they've also come up with a way to produce it
cheaply, on a mass scale.
According to Maher El-Kady, one of the developers of this
technology: "Traditional methods for the fabrication of
micro-super capacitors involve labor-intensive lithographic
techniques that have proven difficult for building cost-effective
devices, thus limiting their commercial application. Instead, we
used a consumer-grade LightScribe DVD burner to produce graphene
micro-supercapacitors over large areas at a fraction of the cost
of traditional devices. Using this technique, we have been able
to produce more than 100 micro-supercapacitors on a single disc
in less than 30 minutes, using inexpensive materials."
Better yet, the new fabrication technique also helps to
improve the supercapacitor's storage ability, by maximizing the
surface area between the two electrodes.
So how close is the world to experiencing the magic of
graphene micro supercapacitors? Well, according to Dr.
Kaner, "We are now looking for industry partners to help us
mass-produce our graphene micro-supercapacitors."
One potential such partner is
, a manufacturer of energy storage devices and carbon-based
supercapacitors, which has been a big supporter of Dr. Kaner's
research thus far.
Applications seemingly limitless
The potential for graphene supercapacitors transcends just
consumer electronics and electric cars. It has the potential to
Roof top solar installation source: SolarCity
almost any industry connected to power. For example, due
to superior cycling stability, graphene supercapacitors show much
better longevity compared to micro-batteries -- thus the
potential for better biomedical implants such as pacemakers, as
well as micro-sensors, and radio frequency ID tags.
Even more exciting is the potential for graphene
supercapacitors to be integrated into solar power systems. This
would give an affordable way for a rooftop solar systems, which
growing exponentially in popularity
thanks to companies such as
, to store cleanly generated power for use at night. Thus,
graphene supercapacitors could prove monumental in helping solar
energy overcome its greatest drawback and help provide the world
of tomorrow with
nearly limitless, clean, renewable energy
Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to
guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the
public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some
early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the
the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million
of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small
company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock
price has nearly unlimited room to run for early-in-the-know
investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart
Could Graphene Change the Way You Charge Your
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